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Portugal’s supreme court approves same-sex marriage bill

Timothy Kincaid

April 8th, 2010

The Portuguese supreme court had until today to approve or reject the same-sex marriage bill forwarded to them by the President. Today they have announced that it is not unconstitutional.

IOL Diario (Google translation)

The Constitutional Court Thursday gave this ‘green light’ to the law that allows marriage between same sex, whereas the norms sent by Ben to preventive control are constitutional, reports as saying.

Judge adviser Victor Gomes was the spokesperson for the ruling, which had eleven votes, of which seven presented the declaration to vote, and two dissenting opinions.

The constitution of Portugal has a clause supporting marriage but this was deemed not to be contradictory to including same-sex couples. (tvi 24 – Google translation)

The Constitutional Court held that “the extension of marriage to same-sex ‘is consistent with the recognition and protection of the family as” fundamental element of society, emphasizing that marriage is’ open concept’, which allows different political views.

In a memo distributed to the media after the public reading of the ruling on the request for preventive control of four rules of law that allows marriage between same-sex requested by the President read that the TC concludes that the legislative initiative ‘not violates the constitutional guarantee of marriage. ”

President Cavaco Silva now has until the 28th to approve or veto the bill. The legislature is believed to have adequate votes to override a veto.



April 8th, 2010 | LINK

I think this ruling could have far reaching effect, even if it takes a while for it to take hold.

The argument against passing full marriage in Ireland, another predominantly Catholic country, is that their constitution requires that the government “protect marriage and the family” and that passing full marriage, as opposed to civil partnerships, MIGHT be unconstitutional.

I think the Portuguese Supreme Court just made a very good case that marriage equality for gay couples DOES protect marriage AND the family. In fact the only argument that could be made would be that the denial of marriage to a certain minority of the population harms marriage, and certainly harms families.

Parabéns Portugal!

April 8th, 2010 | LINK

True, Tampa, but our Supreme Court has shown anti-gay precedent, somewhat recently in a child custody case.

Fred in the UK
April 8th, 2010 | LINK


I think the Portuguese Supreme Court just made a very good case that marriage equality for gay couples DOES protect marriage AND the family.

I suspect it was more that the Supreme Court decided that the Legislature was within it its rights to reach that conclusion i.e. it would also have been constitutional to not pass the bill.

As for how much of an international precedent the decision will become I think depends on similarity of constitutional terminology about defending marriage. (I have no idea how similar accurate translations of countries constitutions are).

I doubt that this will have a great effect in Ireland. I have never heard an actual legal justification for not having gay marriage in Ireland. The countries constitution states that:-

The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.

Marriage itself remains undefined. I have never actually heard or read a lawyer argue that the Supreme Court would take the view that the legislature was not entitled to expand marriage to exclude gay couples. (If anyone can cite a lawyer saying so then please correct me.)

I strongly suspect that the constitutional argument is deployed mainly to either give a non-religious reason against gay marriage of justify the compromise of civil partnerships.

April 8th, 2010 | LINK

is there any way this could influence italy’s supreme court or have they already made up their mind and simply delaying their decision?

April 8th, 2010 | LINK

The comments on that page are disgusting. What is wrong with people? We have all these countries where the issue is settled, and the sky isn’t falling on them. Why can’t the haters see this?

Lynn David
April 8th, 2010 | LINK

Can Brazil be far behind?

Jutta Zalud
April 9th, 2010 | LINK

In case somebody can read Portugese, here is the full text of the decision (46 pages on my printer)
and the google-translation into English:

April 9th, 2010 | LINK

If/When passed, will marriage be allowed for nont-residents, non-citizens?

Timothy (TRiG)
April 9th, 2010 | LINK

When I wrote to the Taoiseach (who’s also one of my TDs) about marriage equality, his response mentioned constitutional issues. He said he’s not sure whether same-sex marriage would be constitutional. I’ve read the constitution, and there’s a lot that needs changing (all those religious oaths for public servants, for a start), but there’s no specific definition of marriage. All the naysayers have to go on is a notion of the intent behind the word marriage when the constitution was written.


Fred in the UK
April 9th, 2010 | LINK

@Timothy (TRiG)
Surely, the Taoiseach should have access to decent legal advice about whether same-sex marriage would be constitutional? Correct me if I am wrong but I doubt that he is arguing that the Irish State should never do anything that could ever reasonably be argued to be unconstitutional, even if there were a stronger argument that it was constitutional. Therefore I have difficulty in not concluding that the Taoiseach is hiding alleged constitutional issues to avoid either supporting or opposing same-sex marriage.

All that said I doubt much would change if the Taoiseach were forced to abandon the constitutional argument and state that many Irish Citizens are deeply opposed to same-sex marriage and Civil Partnership is a reasonable compromise.

April 9th, 2010 | LINK

He wouldn’t have the backing of Polls on that though.

May 21st, 2010 | LINK

Is there list of countries with same sex marriages, and the requirements for those respective countries?.. or at least links in each of those countries where the requirements would be posted? I am Canadian, but cannot get my Pakistani partner here for a marriage: his visa requests are being denied, even for a visitor. So we’re looking where we can both meet, get married, then confront the Canadian government with a request for spousal visa. thanks… Pierre [you may respond to my personal email address]

Timothy Kincaid
May 21st, 2010 | LINK


I don’t have offhand a list of contacts, but the nations which conduct same-sex marriage are:

South Africa

There are also five US states plus Washington DC. And Mexico City might be an option.

Additionally, Canada may recognize other forms of partnership, such as the UK’s civil partners. Pretty much most of Europe has some form of partnership recognition.

Fred in the U.K.
May 21st, 2010 | LINK


U.K. Embassies around the world can, and if needs be do, perform weddings (and Civil Partnerships) for British Nationals (so long as the host government does not object). I have no idea if Canadian Embassies operate similarly, but if they did you might be able to find one, in a country you could both visit, who would marry you.

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